The Thirteen Best UFO Movies Ever (Arguably)

In celebration of the Handpan's iconic flying-saucer-like shape, with this post - just for fun - we’ll be listing some of our favourite UFO-themed movies.  From classic family-favourites, to more recent additions to the genre, below, you’ll find HPM’s list of “must-see” UFO-movies.  Some you’ll likely have seen, and some you may not have…

Family Fun

Aliens were big in the 80's - and if you're looking to settle down with the family and a tub of popcorn (or alone with a reefer and a mega-gulp for that matter), you'll find no shortage of wholesome UFO-featuring movies to keep you entertained from that particular period in time. Flight of the Navigator, the story of 8-year old David's adventure with a wise-cracking alien-ship, was a firm favourite back in the day. Batteries Not Included - that tells the tale of the tenants of a Manhattan apartment block who befriend a family of miniature saucer-shaped mechanical beings, is another great movie of a similar ilk. And of course, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial - featuring he whom is arguably the most beloved alien to ever have graced the silver-screen, and his forever immortalised glowing-finger - in a movie that no life should be lived without seeing at least once.

Genre Classics

The second oldest entry to our list comes in the form of 1977's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a movie that follows a group of individuals efforts to make contact with alien-intelligence, and that also features what is possibly the most renowned example of aliens exhibiting their own musical talents (in a way). While the oldest, and contender for personal favourite here at HPM, comes in the form of the 1953 version of War of the Worlds - which whether in book, radio, or movie format - remains arguably the best story of human/alien interaction (conflict) ever penned.

Blockbusters

In terms of scale, and appreciation of special-effects-infused alien invasions on a planetary-level, there are certain movies that cannot go unacknowledged. Primarily, Independence Day, the 1996 movie that enthralled viewers with an all-out ET invasion of the likes that had never previously been witnessed - with city-sized alien spaceships so vast, that they could literally block out the sun. But also both Skyline, another alien-invasion movie of epic-proportions, and Prometheus, the 2012 addition to the Alien-franchise, that explores the origins of man-kinds creation, are deserving of honourable mentions.

Five UFO Movies You Might Not Have Seen

Up until this point there's a fairly good chance that you'll have already watched many, if not all, of the movies mentioned above. So to finish this list off, we'll offer up five "a little less well-known" UFO-themed movies; that you might not yet have seen...

2014's Extraterrestrial might follow a fairly well-trodden formulaic path for a part, being reminiscent of every "a group of teenagers lost in the woods" type horror ever produced. But beyond that it's a surprisingly well-made and stylish movie that takes the ET element and makes it its own, and is far more entertaining than expected - making it well worth a gander.

Shaky "found-footage" camcorder-type movies aren't everybody's cup-of-tea - but if like us here at HPM you're a fan - the following are a few movies that you might enjoy watching also, if you haven't already. The McPherson Tape (also known as Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County) was a 1989 TV movie, and while it's about as low-budget as it comes, it does a pretty good job of capturing the kind of tensions a family finding themselves in the midst of an unexpected alien-intrusion; might endure - and in it's own way is another classic of the genre. While Hangar 10 makes for another interesting UFO-laden addition to our list from the mockumentary-school of film-making - and reminds us that some fences are in place for a reason.

Circle offers a particularly unique take on the alien-invasion concept, forcing human-abductees to face-off against each other in an unusual manner in a battle for survival. While our final offering, The Signal, makes for possibly the most bizarre, and existential movie on our list - within which four MIT graduates find themselves on the flip-side of a very different curtain.

Know of any more great UFO movies? - share them in the comments below...

The Flower of Life - And Steel Tongue Drum

Whether in its oldest known example, burned into the granite of the Temple of Osiris at Abydos, Egypt - circa 10,500 B.C. - or in a more contemporary setting adorning the steel of a KosmoskyDrum (see right), “The Flower of Life”, has a deep and rich history. From being of particular interest to Italian Renaissance polymath, Leonardo da Vinci.  To being found the world over, from China’s Forbidden City, to the ancient synagogues in the Galilee, Israel.

A geometric shape believed by some to be of sacred-geometry, the most common form of the Flower of Life is hexagonal pattern (where the center of each circle is on the circumference of six surrounding circles of the same diameter), made up of 19 complete circles and 36 partial circular arcs, enclosed by a large circle.  As can be seen decorating the top of the GUDA Drum featured in the video below...



The Flower of Life’s importance is gained primarily from the fact that within its form can be found almost all other geometric shapes considered sacred, from the Vesica Piscis, through to Metatron’s Cube.  Believed by some to depict the fundamental forms of all space and time.  With others going as far as to suggest that The Flower of Life is key to the opening of star-gates.

And with our third offering of another Flower of Life adorned steel tongue drum, this time made by SupernovaWorkshop (pictured above-right) - it should be clear that should sacred-geometry, and/or The Flower of Life hold particular interest, or beliefs, for you - you should find your preferences well catered-for - when searching for a musical vessel garnished with its likeness.

And should you like to learn more about the Flower of Life itself, you can of course find a wealth of information on the subject over at YouTube: HERE.

Almost Rust-Proof - Stainless Steel Handpan Explored

With nitrided-steel shells being the most commonly used blank canvases from which Handpan are formed (to date) - due at least in part to the work of the inventors of the Handpan instrument-type, PANArt, who championed the nitriding-process with their use of a specially-formulated type of steel known as “Pang”. Recent videos demonstrating Handpan made from stainless-steel, a material once widely spoken of as being unfit-for-use, are beginning to suggest that this rust-resistant steel alloy, with all of the benefits to Handpan owners that that particular quality brings, may have been somewhat overlooked - as can be heard in the following stainless steel creation from Nirvana Handpans...



Arguably, second only to those people who ask to have a go on your Handpan, and then proceed to beat on it far more heavily-handed than you would like, curse-wise for Handpan owners, comes rust.  Something that without regular maintenance, and oiling, can begin to eat away at a Handpan fairly quickly, even with the inherent rust-resistance gained from the nitriding process itself.  So the benefits of a Handpan made from a material renowned for its corrosion-resistance, should require no further explanation.  Something that has likely led the likes of Nirvana, Aciel, Meridian, Axiom, and numerous other makers, to increasingly experiment with it.   

In addition to its rust-resistant qualities, the base material from which a Handpan is formed can also impact the voice of the finished instrument.  As can be heard in this final video from Nirvana Handpans, in which four of their pans are showcased, one made from Raw Steel - Hydroformed, another from Raw Steel - Handsunk, a third from Stainless Steel - Handsunk, and the final offering of Nitrided Steel - Deep Drawn - demonstrating the different tonal characteristics of four Handpan, all tuned to the same scale, by the same maker, but made from different base materials. Leaving you the listener free to decide, where your own preferences lie...

Handpan Art and Evatek Cases - by ANAPAZ

In a recent post here at HPM we highlighted the custom-designed Evatek service that Hardcase Technologies have been offering via a network of artists - who are able to take what is one of the most respected travel-cases in the world of Handpan, and turn them into true one-of-a-kind works of art.

And while that post featured primarily the work of fellow Evatek artist, Pam Gogh - this post, aims to showcase the art of another Handpan-centric creative, ANAPAZ.  Who has not only been producing some stunning custom-made Evateks, but has also been experimenting with engraving Handpan shells themselves - as can be seen below - which while not tuned yet, is perhaps something that we might see, a little further down the road...



And the cases themselves, in addition to being fully-functional back-worn Handpan-protecting shells - are sights to behold.  If the Ninja Turtles were to get all dressed-up pretty, in their very finest prom pomp, and regalia - likely, that particular spectacle; would look something like these...  

 

' I paint with my hands but my feelings, emotions and my intuition are in charge; the hand is just a tool. I never know how a painting is going to look like in the end. It is always a surprise to me. ' - ANAPAZ

For more information on Romania-born artist ANAPAZ, and her Handpan-themed artwork (and more), you can visit her over at her official website: HERE.

Symphonic Steel Iskra - That First Generation Hang Sound Revisited?

While the trend in recent years has seemingly been to refine the sound of the Handpan into its most “perfect” form.  U.S. Handpan makers, Symphonic Steel, with their recent “Iskra” model - have set their sights upon revisiting the classic sound of the first generation PANArt-made Swiss Hang.  And "using material and tuning techniques that are very similar to those of the originators in Bern" - attempt to replicate its sound.

In the march towards perfection and refinement, the sounds of original Hang have come under some criticism in recent times - particularly earlier Hanghang - now that there are many other, newer, instruments to choose from.  But it’s certainly worth remembering that many veterans of the Handpan scene today were first enchanted by the sounds of PANArt’s earlier instruments.  And that arguably, no Handpan since, has come close to creating the near-rabid frenzy of passion, love, and need, that those early Hang did, when people first began to stumble upon them.

And returning to the newly introduced Iskra model of Handpan by Symhonic Steel, if that early Hang sound is something that you’ve been searching for, without the likely heftier price-tag of an original, Symphonic’s Iskra Handpan, do a good job (in our opinion) of capturing a similar mood, and emotive-edge...



Iskra, means “Spark”, in Slovak.  And these pans are named in reverence of the original creations of PANArt that inspired them - with even the Iskra logo having a similar roughly-etched quality to it - reminiscent in tribute of earlier Hang brandings.  

And before moving on to listen to more videos of Iskra Handpan in different tunings over at the Symphonic Steel YouTube channel (should you choose to do so) - having heard an Iskra in Pygmy tuning above, below you can listen to an original first generation Pygmy Hang for comparison...



For more information you can find Symphonic Steel at Facebook: HERE.  Or find their official website: HERE.

Isthmus Instruments - Handpan from the Rabbit-Hole

Based in Madison, U.S.A., Isthmus Instruments, are the creations of one of the first female Handpan-makers, Jenny Robinson.  Like many Jenny first discovered these singing-steel UFOs via YouTube - and in an article over at Isthmus.com, Jenny Robinson explains how she “fell down the rabbit-hole", and "fell in love with the sound” upon first hearing them.  And it wasn’t long after, having decided that this was something that she needed within her life, calling upon her machinist-background, Jenny setup her own Handpan-building studio - and would dedicate the next four years (and counting) of her life, to the art of building and tuning Handpan.  And while by her own admission the journey between the points of enthusiastically diving in head-first, and the level she now finds herself at, led to the accumulation of a "grave yard of disaster pans" on-route (as every fledgling maker likely collects). Every mistake was clearly well learned from - as can be heard in the most recent offerings of Isthmus Instruments - one of which; you can take a listen to below...



In addition to building beautiful instruments, building a community around them is also something that is notably of importance to the Isthmus Instruments team - who in mid 2017 hosted the first Handpan gathering in the midwest (which you can check out below) - which they hope to hold annually moving forwards...



And we'll finish off this post by sharing one last recent video from the Isthmus Instuments team, featuring a pair of their more recent creations, including a stunning looking (and sounding) custom-made, golden-tree-adorned; C Aeolian...



To find Isthmus Handpan for sale you can visit their ETSY store: HERE. Or for the latest updates you can find them over at Facebook: HERE. Or over at their official website: HERE.

Handpan Sound-Dampening Dust Covers

We stumbled across these here at HPM a few months back, thought they were kind of cool, and then got distracted, and moved on to other things.  And it wasn’t until we more recently checked out one of Handpan-legend, Manu Delago’s recent videos (which we’ll embed a little below), in which he makes good use of one of these multi-function sound-dampening dust-covers, that we took pause to give them second-thought.

Made from cotton and elastane, these elasticated Handpan covers not only serve the purpose of keeping the playing-surface of your Handpan dust-free, but they also have an interesting effect on the sound when played through the cover.  As can be seen in the following short video by Elfi and Oona, (who make and sell them)...



And at time of posting they can be purchased for the cost of 35 Euro as part of a Handpan care-kit that also includes a microfiber cloth impregnated with coconut and mineral oils, for helping to keep your Handpan rust free.

And to hear how one of these can be put to great effect to create a different sound for playing, you can take a listen to Manu Delago’s latest video (mentioned above), Mesmer Mesmerising...

Three Hot Handpan Cover Songs

To paraphrase the words of “Mugabe”, from the Zoolander movie franchise, “Handpan covers - so hot right now!”.  In fact, over at our own Handpan Tube Facebook page, over the last month or so, the majority of the most popular videos we've shared, have been covers. Because while it’s always truly awe-inspiring to hit that play button and be met with a truly beautiful, original, Handpan composition - there’s definitely something cool in hearing some popular favourites getting the Handpan-treatment.  

An so with this post, we’ll be sharing three of the most popular Handpan covers of recent times…

Adele - Rolling in the Deep

Courtesy of Asmus Drejer and Mikkel Hæk, this cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”, proved to be a Handpan Tube favourite.  It's quirky, and it's fun, which is what makes it a favourite with us too.

YouTube description: ‘We decided to record our version of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" in a parkinglot in Silkeborg City. All reverb in the video is 100% natural. It's was amazing playing down there. We made a massive effort to make this video as good as possible, and we are pretty pleased with the result.

I'm playing a Pi Handpan tuned in Cm.
Asmus is playing a LAG "4 Seasons" 300DCE Autumn’...



Sting - Fragile

As beautiful as it is fragile, this cover of a Sting classic is something not to be missed.  From the Handpan to the vocals, Philippe Gagne’s rendition hits all the right buttons.

YouTube description:  ‘When I was younger, both my parents were listening to a lot of 70's and 80's classics, this one being one of them.
This song always make me think about my father, so here it is for him.

Played on Ayasa Flora E/ A B C# D E F# G# A B transformed into Romanian Hijaz adding C - D# - G respectively.’...



Nine Inch Nails - Right Where it Belongs

Last, but certainly not least, comes this cover of “Right where it belongs”, originally by Nine Inch Nails.  With Mumi on Handpan you know you can’t go wrong - we’ve been fans of Mumi here at HPM for a good while now and she never disappoints, but with this track, once again, she’s gone “next level”.

YouTube Description: ‘Composed by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)
Performed by Giacomo Cella (Jacky 0) and Emma Grassia (Mumi)
Mixed by Giacomo Cella (full description at YouTube)...

Handpan Makers United - Seeking to Protect the Handpan(?)

We’ve been receiving a lot of news updates this past week or so from U.S Handpan makers, Pantheon Steel.  Their new generation of Halo are now hitting the market, and they also released word that they were generously offering up a new building technique that they’d developed to the public, free-and-gratis.  But arguably, it is their most recent announcement, regarding the formation of an association calling themselves, “Handpan Makers United”, that has been the most interesting.  

Handpan Makers United is seemingly a coalition of prominent names, and organisations from within the world of Handpan, from respected makers, through to festival organisers, players, and those in the accessories market.  And their recently published mission statement describes their grouping as follows:

‘Advocates for protection and cultivation of the global tuned steel community through spread of truthful information, collaboration, camaraderie and free creative expression within the Handpan Art form.’

Reading through their mission statement further, and a key part of their plans appear to be aimed at the dissemination of ‘helpful building practices’, with some of the key-players within this newly formed super-group, such as Pantheon Steel, and Saraz, in particular, having already shared an abundance of useful information, images, and instructionals, between them, online, and off. So for those in the building-game, or considering getting into it, this is a resource that is likely to be carved out of solid-gold.  With the Handpan building references section already containing a wealth of useful and interesting links through which to browse.

However...

Outside of that, there are some slightly worrying aspects to the association's mission statement, for our personal tastes (whatever they’re worth) - with words and phrases such as “protection”, and “spread of truthful information” being littered throughout it.  

As a general rule, whenever somebody offers to sell us the "truth", we usually ask first, “whose?”. And with the Handpan now having reached its late-teens, and seemingly having done pretty well for itself thus far - sprouting off here, and budding off there; in a very natural way, to create the vibrant and varied world that it already has around itself - you kind of have to ask yourself - is the Handpan really in need of protection, and if so, from whom?  PANArt (The Hang-makers) themselves have been trying to exhibit post-sale control over how their own creations are perceived, and played for years, with (arguably) very limited results.  They are well-known to have become hugely protective of their own intellectual-property in recent years - yet for a hundred Euro a time, you can pretty much slap their brand-name over whatever the hell you like (or thereabouts).  

A quick look through the founding-members of the United Handpan Makers reveals no real surprises - being primarily made-up of established, already interconnected, U.S.-based makers, with a strong “community” ethos.  Combine that with the facts that the likes of Tzevaot presumably found their invitations to join lost in the mail, and that individuals usually don’t feel the need to combine, and to consolidate power and influence, without a very specific agenda to push - and it doesn’t feel like too much of a stretch to imagine that we might be seeing certain instruments tagged with the coveted (and self-regulated?) "United Handpan Makers Approved" stamp, in the near-to-distant future...

Regardless though, and whatever should become of this league of united Handpan makers, and co. they are almost certainly worth a follow over at Facebook - and a browse of their website - where likely you will find treasure (and possibly a little propaganda) awaiting you.

Dreaming a Handpan into Existence - Lucid Dreaming

Over the years we’ve stumbled across a number of imaginative ways that some have utilised to make their own Hang-like instruments on a budget.  Such as this guy’s homemade plastic-bottle Handpan-esque creation.  

But if you’re short on cash, and even the idea of messing around with sellotape and empty soda bottles seems like too much hard work, you’re still not without options - according to The Lucid Guide over at YouTube, who purportedly simply dreams his Handpan into existence, and composes Handpan music while he sleeps…

Lucid Dreaming

A lucid dream is a dream during which the dreamer is aware of dreaming. During lucid dreaming, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment.

Composing Handpan Music While You Sleep

Faced with the dilemma of only having partial access to their friends Handpan,yet still wishing to compose on the instrument even with the pan out of reach, The Lucid Guide simply manifests his friends pan into existence when in a dream state, using the power of lucid dreaming.  Stating about the following recording: ‘Having only limited access to the Hang Drum used within this recording, roughly 80% of my practice with this instrument has occurred during lucid dreams’.



A related article found over at www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com, by Daniel Love, describes the Handpan as being the perfect tool for experimenting with the ability to practice and explore creativity within the dreamscape.  And documents his experiences at integrating the arts of lucid-dreaming, and Handpan composition.  With one particularly interesting anecdote being that after recording, and sharing his efforts online, the NaturePan maker, the same brand of Handpan that Daniel had been borrowing from a friend, and also dreaming into existence, stumbled across his work. And decided to donate Daniel one of their instruments for real, in order to help further his experiments.

Solid evidence, that lucid, or even more tangible, you literally can dream a Handpan into your hands - If you really set your mind to it.

Read more: The Dreamlike Music of the Handpan - by Daniel Love

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